Friday, August 28, 2015

New White Buffalo Calf Woman Mask



WHITE BUFFALO CALF WOMAN

As a beautiful young maiden I appeared bearing a sacred pipe,
And inside the village’s big medicine tipi,
together we conducted ceremony.

I showed the people
How to lift the pipe up to the sky,
toward Grandfather,
And down to the earth,
toward Grandmother.
And to the four directions of the universe.

I told them the smoke rising from the bowl
Was the living breath
of the great Grandfather Mystery. 

“With this pipe,” I said,“Walk a living prayer.
With your feet resting upon the earth
And the pipestem reaching into the sky,
Your body forms a living bridge between
The Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above.
Now we are one:

Earth, sky, man, woman,
And all living things.
We are all relations,
The pipe holds them all together.” 

Next I instructed
In the seven sacred ceremonies of the pipe: 

The first was the sweat lodge purification ceremony.
The next was for naming the children.
The third was for healing,
The fourth was  the adoption ceremony.
The fifth  the marriage ceremony.
The sixth was the vision quest.
And the seventh  was the sundance ceremony.

As I walked away, I became a Buffalo, and I rolled over four times:

First I turned into a black buffalo;
Second  into a brown buffalo;
The third into a red buffalo;
And the fourth time I became a white buffalo calf.

 As soon as I departed that day
Great buffalo herds appeared from beyond the horizon
And some of their number allowed themselves to be killed
So the people might live.

I have not forgotten you.
That white buffalo calf born not so long ago,
Is but one glimmer from the beyond
Of My imminent return.

To grant your people
who are My people
another bridge
To knit the world above
And the earth below
Together again.


by Mary Kay Landon

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Oshun Mask



OSHUN

 by Mary Kay Landon 


From the river Oshun deep in Nigeria
Whence came My name
I come to you today —
Clothed in burnished copper grace,
all done up with My cowrie shells and brass bracelets,
Sporting My fan, winking in My mirror.

You love Me, because you must —
Enraptured by My essence,
Snuggled in My tender-hearted embrace,
Permeated by My soft lust,
You can only want what I ask.

call on Me by name,
Oshun

Thoughts, Whispers, Words, Shouts
I hear, hold and answer to them all.

Oshun — Oshun — Oshun!

Call on Me by name
whenever women are  degraded,
whenever sweetness is despised
whenever kindness is shouted down,
whenever beauty lies broken.

Oshun — Oshun — Oshun!

Call on Me by name
when a child’s simple cry for a hair ribbon goes unanswered,
when a woman must give her body to sex without pleasure,
whenever the forces of greed once again
rape nature in the name of progress.

Oshun — Oshun — Oshun!

Call on Me by name
when the dry dust of habit and utility,
Threaten to blot out beauty and sensuality,
love and compassion, from the field of daily life.

Call on Me by name

And I will return
Sashaying in My orange skirts,
all done up with My cowrie shells and brass bracelets,
Sporting My fan, winking in My mirror.

To inspire and comfort you,
With My presence and touch —
Soft yes, but carrying a force
that can move mountains.

Ashay.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pele Mask

PELE


I am Pele Honua Mea
Ka wahine ‘ai honua,
the woman who devours the land.

Feel the heat where steam dances
above the earthcracks  at Wahine Kapu,
between the rope folds of pahoehoe lava.
See the play of sunlight
on My ebony skin
a shimmering rainbow of color.

I am She Who shapes the sacred land.

I erupted in the ocean long ago!
In ecstasy I spewed my lava into the sea
in clouds of red, and black and white
I built the islands called Hawaii.

Honor me and my sacred mountain, Kilauea!
Take not one small rock from my body!
Honor  me or feel my wrath!

E nihi ka hele, walk softly!

You call me capricious, violent.
But my fires are the deep fires of Creation
Shaping  new lands:
Deep in the sea
I stir the great waters
I stir the air

Rising from the core of the Earth -
I, Pele Honua Mea
stir the cauldron of life!

Use My energy in correct action
Use My passion for righteous change
begin again in new and fertile ground!

Ignite!  Be transformed
at this time of the great change!
Arise and dance with me!
                    .......Mary Kay Landon



Making masks for the Parliament of World Religions performance, here at last is Pele, the Great Goddess who is the Spirit of Kilauea, the volcano of Hawaii. 

Pele has many native stories, and many contemporary stories of Her peculiar, as well as fiery,  manifestations as well.......

My feeling in making this mask was that She is one of the great Elemental builders of the planet, those great intelligent forces that bring forth the molten source of new lands and new life from the heart of the Earth.

I look forward to seeing the mask performed!


Friday, August 21, 2015

American Nomads: In Praise of the Renaissance Faire Community




One more thing I found from my archives........

"I always felt like the show was a dirigible that somehow, when we opened, was up and God knows how the hell it got there.  Admit it, we all wish the village could somehow last forever.  When I leave the Bristol Renaissance Faire, I always remember a town full of people, and I'm glad that, even when it's buried beneath the snow, it exists, it will come back.  It's like Brigadoon.

It's all transitory really - it's only right now that we have anything, anything at all.  And that's what the Faires are.  They're a celebration that bubbles up literally out of the dust, sometimes in spite of the producers, the corporations, the personalities…….the magic is always there."

Bruce Bramson

I've been  in Renaissance Faires for 30 years.  I've stood in many a booth, eaten many a roasted turkey leg, danced beneath a full moon, shared gossip around campfires, and packed and unpacked many a camper.  I've been a mask maker, an amulet maker, a tarot reader, and a dancer, rolling across the country with winter always to my back.

I never meant to join the circus, so to speak. After graduate school I intended to become a professor of art.   But I guess, like most of us, I just fell in love with the Faire.  And, like all love affairs that begin with a lighthearted kiss, one never thinks, at the time, that the charm of this chance meeting might just change the course of your life.  That it might become a marriage, a career, a family, a way of life…...well, perhaps we are blessed that most of us lack the gift of prophecy.  Not that I have any regrets!  

The truth is, I write this as a love token, homage to a very special community.  And this year, 1999, is the first year in many I'll come off the road, to have what my friend Cora the Wheat Weaver calls an "out of bodice experience".  Peggy and others will manage the Rainwalker booths this year.  Well, I'll try, dear ones.  But I doubt this is my last Huzzah.

The festivals began in California in 1962, with the genius of Phyllis Patterson, a history teacher.  They began as a fund raiser for KPFK, public radio in Los Angeles, and offered participants an opportunity to join in the fun of reenactment.    Renaissance Festivals across the country are now a multi-million dollar businesses, a far cry from the counter-cultural encampments they once were.  And there are  three generations of "Rennies", many of whom have grown up on the road.  Some of us have noticed that we are growing old with the shows….strange in a world that, like the Fairy Isles, seems to be timeless.

My first encounter was in the early '70's, when I wandered into a circle of interesting people doing some interesting dancing at MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, one sunny afternoon.  They invited me to step into the magic circle, and before I knew it, I was dancing with them at the northern California Renaissance Festival, my velvet gown swirling behind me as I bowed to my partner, to the beat of drum and dulcimer music.  I do not think I will ever forget, late one night, as the flaps to our troupe's admittedly noisy tent parted.  Within the aperture, framed by the yellow light of a lantern, coated, cloaked, and formidable, stood the Sheriff of Nottingham.  "Thou dost disturb the peace!" he said.  Busted!

Many "Rennies" are nomads, which is a phenomenon in itself worth writing about.  Why do people become nomads?  What draws them into a lifestyle of constant movement?  I'm curious.  I've been asking myself that question for a long time.  Perhaps it appeals to a certain kind of restless soul who thrives "enroute" without, at least on the surface, the physical and emotional commitments that being "landed" engenders.  Maybe it's more primal than that: the Renfair community is rather tribal, and there are not many opportunities left to live a tribal lifestyle these days.  Like all tribes, it has its touchstones, rites of passage, weddings, births, deaths, rules, and ethics.  It's simply always on the move, coalescing and dissolving with each show.

There's a familiar rhythm.  It begins with an excitement that mounts as the show goes up.  For a month or more before the show opens, energy builds as, literally, it comes to life.  Booths go up, new paint and banners appear, trailers and tents sprout like mushrooms.  People drift in - craftspeople setting up their workshops, trying to get stocked for the show, performers rehearsing, carpenters with stages to build and roofs to shingle, kids with beat up vans, piercing and dreadlocks, looking for jobs.  The on-site schoolhouse opens,  potlucks are organized, birthday cakes are baked, drum circles might happen.  And then all too soon there is the amazingly fast breakdown.  A stream of vans, buses and trucks hauling trailers flow out of the gate, for points west or east….perhaps you pass them on route 40, and honk, wave.  "See you in New York!  See you in Maryland!"

It never fails to strike me that this is, well, Zen.  There is a living metaphor here, as I watch each show melt like a snowflake.  Here is a lifestyle that will not let me forget the fragile transience of our lives….we're all nomads, really.  We come together for a while, we make a family, a village, we dance together, we celebrate, we fight sometimes, we create, and then we pack up and we're gone, all in different directions, until next year, next cycle, next lifetime.

Until we meet again.  Same place, same season perhaps.  In the summer when bagpipes call from across the green or in the fall when the trees are crisp and brilliant, and multi-colored banners are flying from some fanciful turret.  

To all  who have celebrated with me for so many years, friends, colleagues and customers, I offer my deepest gratitude and praise.

Lauren Raine
(Berkeley, 1999)

"And we'll all go together,  to pull wild mountain thyme,
All among the purple heather, will ye go, laddie, go?"

With thanks to so many bodiced ladies, and the men in tights who wore them so very well:

Dellie Dorfman, Berkanna, Vicki, Taylor Marie, Barbara and Rick, Michael Stewart, Chris the dressmaker, Heidi the wanderer, Laurette, Pam DeLuna, Madame Ovary, Ceil, Peggy, Cora, Rosanna, Tracy the mask maker, Judy, Sandy and John Lockwood, Kathy and Thor, Judith, Mari, Jayvanti, the Mud Men, Robb Fletcher, Duncan Eagleson, Pat Murphy, Kerry McNeil, Dan, Jeff , Mitch, Cliff the Greenman, Bob, Seamus, Bruce Bramson, Kip, Michael Valentine, Herb and Rita, Bob Lepre, and so many more.




May we remain evergreen.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Old Poems.........



Reading old poetry, like old love letters, seems to me to be a form of time travel.......I think it is good to remember those passing Magnitudes............

 MAGNITUDES

Does everyone,
at least once, feel magnitudes
while stopped at a red light?

Even you, Joe, with your
extinguished cigar
beneath the seat of your bus.

What possibility
did you see in the shape of your hand,
the space between thumb and index finger
extending into spaciousness
this pulse
rolling down 47th Street

from a wave
that just broke
on the shoreline of Cape Cod
and now ripples off to Africa.

At such moments,
I want to tell someone
that if I lift this foot
a spiral galaxy
will spill like cream
across the fine pavement of eternity. 







GOD AS ART CRITIC

This life,
call it mine tentatively,
at its end will be
my dubious masterpiece
on display in some dusty, star-strewn  gallery.

Maybe one in a series.  I'll call them
"Studies in Blue and Red"
blue for capillaries and the sky
too vast to know:
red for the tangible heart.

I leave it to the Critic
to analyze technique,
style, and historical relevance.

If I don't receive a glowing review,
I pray, at least,
they will find my work original.



 



ELF

Your mark glowed on your forehead
a signature left by some unknown god.

You were one of the half-born
suspended along some unseen line,
stretched taut -
you shone with the pale light
of another landscape,
a castaway forever leaving home.

There were times
I wanted to seize you.
To hold you tight, keep you here.

Instead, I gave you
my tokens and amulets
the stories I wrote you into
and watched them quietly dissolve
in whatever stream
bore you off

    your small boat
    sailing into the brave distance
    yellow sails
    spread glad and wide
    on the horizon.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Common Miracles............


"Perception is a reciprocal phenomenon organized as much by the surrounding world as by oneself...........the psyche is a property of the ecosystem as a whole." 
David Abram
"We have a bequest of stories, tales from the old storytellers, some of whose names we know, but some not. The storytellers go back and back, to a clearing in the forest where a great fire burns, and the old shamans dance and sing, for our heritage of stories began in fire, magic, the spirit world. And that is where it is held, today."
Doris Lessing,  From Acceptance Speech for Nobel Prize in Literature

Lately I haven't been up to writing much,  so I've been looking back, years back, at the progress of this Blog, which began as a Journal for a Fellowship I received at the Alden Dow Creativity Center at Northwood University in Michigan to pursue my project "Spider Woman's Hands - Weaving a New Web".   Since then Spider Woman has taken me on many journeys, and shown me many connections and links and, I hope, made a better weaver of me.   One thing I find myself always, always talking about one way or another is "the great Conversation", the perception I have of a participatory world that is always speaking to us, when we are able to listen.  Truly I find it so.........My sense of what Carolyn Myss might call symbolic or archetypal thinking  has evolved slowly, very slowly, and is influenced as well by my long interest in dreams, mythology, synchronicities,  and spiritualism as well.  Spirits, our inner dream life, and World  communicate symbolically. 

When I speak of these things with people I meet if I think they are receptive,  I hear either many stories of "the miraculous" back, or it's a closed subject.  Reality is indeed diverse, and has  lot to do with what you believe.  For example, not long ago I told my brother, grieving the loss of our mother and sibling, that I had been to a medium in Camp Chesterfield who in the course of our reading told me that "Florence and Glenn said hello" and proceeded to tell me things that were true of them. Although she did not know me, is 80 years old and does not own a computer, and he knows I don't lie about such things, he is convinced that she rushed out and looked up my genealogy on the Web.  No other possibility is possible in his worldview, and sadly, it would offer him a great deal of comfort if it were.

We do indeed "weave our worlds" with the stories we tell about it..........so what are the stories that we're telling, and what are the collective stories that we are living?  Perhaps that's been the effort of my life, and that of my colleagues, the "re-storying" of our world.  Artists are mythmakers.

So although I posted the article below back in 2008, I felt like looking at it again. If any who may read this Blog have read it before, please forgive me.  But on numerous levels this synchronicity was a  conversation for me.  The "Habit of Loving" is important perhaps most of all..............a living metaphor.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March 2008


Doris Lessing and my "Book of Common Miracles"

  “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
...........Doris Lessing

"Writers are often asked: "How do you write?" But the essential question is:  "Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?"Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas - inspiration. If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. "Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?"
  Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize Speech, 2007

I think, if I tried to write a book about my adventures,  I would call it the "Book of Common Miracles", or perhaps, "Grace". Because I've often felt there is a Conversation going on that, in a quantum sense, once we notice, becomes continually more animated. In other words, we're often "tapped on the shoulder" by angels, and pre-occupied with our daily concerns, fail to notice little miracles fluttering under our very noses.

Ecologist David Abram commented that perception is "
a reciprocal phenomenon organized as much by the sourrounding world as by oneself", and suggested that a two-way dynamic of intention, or energy exchange, may be going on. In contrast to our idea of a non-living world we simply observe, he went on to say that "the psyche is a property of the ecosystem as a whole", suggesting that we move beyond the notion that "one's mind is nothing other than the body itself".* A Conversant World. Or as writer Alice Walker has often said, "the Universe responds."

So the story I would like to tell today concerns one of my 5 favorite writers, a woman whose visionary books, most significantly SHIKASTA, has informed and inspired me since the mid '70's, Doris Lessing. The excerpt above is from her 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature speech, which she received at the age of 88. The visual is her personal note and autograph, found on the back cover of a paperback I found lying on the sidewalk at my feet, a pile of discarded books just a few blocks from where I live in downtown Tucson, Arizona. To me, it's a talisman - infused with energy from the living hand of this prolific and visionary writer, whose long and enduring gift she has never failed.

I've been very depressed this winter, which led me to go into therapy to tell and reveal to myself, some of the stories of my personal life, and hopefully untangle them so I can move through the bardo of transition I've been mired in. I do not like the cynicism and bitterness that post-menopausally "haunts" me.......the Habit of Loving is the discipline from which creativity arises, and without it's hopeful window, the river dries up. I've been blessed to find a wise counselor to listen to me. And in the "unmasking process" (as she puts it) I've often felt like a ghost within the "legend" of my former self.......therapy is rather a painful process! And I've had plenty of doubts as to whether being an artist matters anymore.

So when I found"The Habit of Loving" at my feet while strolling down a residential street near where I live I picked it up with pleasure. To find a personal autograph on the inside (dated 1982) by the author........is pure magic. Personal magic - because if it was by Stephen King, or any of the thousands of authors I don't know or don't care about, it wouldn't mean a thing to me. But this is a talisman, as if, in some wonderful way, a creative spark was passed on to me from someone I tremendously admire. And a reminder to not only respect, but CHERISH the gifts of creativity and expression we're given. It's too easy to forget - they are high privilege.

In her acceptance speech, Lessing remembers her life early life in Africa, in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, as well as her life in England. And she urges us to remember how precious knowledge, and the gifts of literacy, really are.

"We are a jaded lot, we in our world - our threatened world. We are good for irony and even cynicism. Some words and ideas we hardly use, so worn out have they become. But we may want to restore some words that have lost their potency.

We have a treasure-house of literature, going back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans. It is all there, this wealth of literature, to be discovered again and again by whoever is lucky enough to come up on it. Suppose it did not exist. How impoverished, how empty we would be.We have a bequest of stories, tales from the old storytellers, some of whose names we know, but some not. The storytellers go back and back, to a clearing in the forest where a great fire burns, and the old shamans dance and sing, for our heritage of stories began in fire, magic, the spirit world. And that is where it is held, today.

Ask any modern storyteller and they will say there is always a moment when they are touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back and back to the beginning of our race, to fire and ice and the great winds that shaped us and our world.  The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise . . . but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. 

It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.

The poor girl (in Zimbabwe) trudging through the dust, dreaming of an education for her children, do we think that we are better than she is - we, stuffed full of food, our cupboards full of clothes, stifling in our superfluities?
I think it is that girl and the women who were talking about books and an education when they had not eaten for three days, that may yet define us.

Doris Lessing
© The Nobel Foundation 2007

*"The Perceptual Implications of Gaia", David Abram, THE ECOLOGIST (1985)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Poetry by Normandi Ellis

Sculpture by Catherine Nash
      Insha'Allah

On a rainy New York morning in a cab on the way to JFK
I lost my wallet, my credit card, my driver's liscense and $300
I say "insha'Allah" - As God Wills It.
My seat companion on EgyptAir lost all of her luggage.
I say "Allahu Akbar" - God is Great.
Dear Lady, God smiles upon you and me
and has given us both a gift.
Now, others may give and because of our loss,
they are blessed by their giving.
We have fewer burdens to carry, less to guard
and so in that way we can open our hearts.
"Insha'Allah" we say together, God is Great.
When I return home from Egypt
there in my mailbox is an envelope
with wallet, credit cards, driver's license and $300.
The message read:  God Loves You.
There was no return address.

Normandi Ellisfrom "Words on Water"
www.finishinglinepress.com